Bonum Certa Men Certa

Novell FUDs OpenSUSE to Sell SLES and SLED Licences

The morning week+ after

It hasn't been long since the important release of OpenSUSE 11.0. Novell is already trying to downplay the viability of OpenSUSE in order to sell its proprietary software-enhanced SLES/D. Watch this:

The differentiation for corporate customers is what comes next. Why is openSuSE not well suited for corporate use? It’s built by great people, with the purest of intent, and they will want to make things better. The problem is that corporate needs something more.

Given an in-house skilled person (or people), this just isn't true. Moreover, support can be called from the outside even for a community-driven distribution. That's how Free software works, and that's how profit is extracted. Acquisition costs are belittled by maintenance costs no matter if the software deployed is Free or proprietary.

Unconvinced Users

The above example may seem like a bit of a stretch, but OpenSUSE's woes needn't be tied to Novell's attempt to overshadow its presence. Quite a few people were displeased with the following elaborative report, whose conclusion is as follows.

openSUSE 11.0 is a difficult system to qualify. Highlights include good availability of current packages and YAST GUI configuration tools for some advanced features. However, these advantages are largely eclipsed by a chaotic, dysfunctional package management system and marginal performance. New Linux users with more complex network configurations or challenging hardware may be forced to use openSUSE due to its unique innovations in GUI system configuration. Yet, experienced and inexperienced users alike may find themselves increasingly frustrated by the grave lack of refinement in what is an otherwise capable Linux distribution.

Here is another interesting take from Steve Carl (BMC).

As usual, I have to ask the question, is OpenSUSE 11 a viable desktop for an enterprise. Not for geeks like me but for the average computer user that does not want to know anything about the computer itself: they just want a tool to get a job done.

The desktop itself is easy to use, easy to configure, easy to update, and a strong preview of what is to come in the next release of SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop). It has all sorts of standard Open Support, from Wikis to mailing lists to online doc.

There are still those who suggest that Ubuntu, for example, is an inch ahead.

In my own choice of categories and tests, and in my own judgment alone, Ubuntu 8.04 has beaten openSUSE 11 but only by a very slim margin. It only shows that openSUSE is worthy to be called the second most popular Linux distribution at the moment, and Ubuntu is still the cream of the crop.

Admittedly, it's very user- and PC-dependent, but the reviewers in this case are experienced ones and their PCs are definitely not Linux-hostile.

Technical Assessment

We gave some examples of technical deficiencies a few days ago. There are some more minor peeves, which probably ought to be seen as bug reports. Here is one about suspend to RAM.

In my notebook computer, HP Compaq NX7300, the “suspend to RAM” functionality had worked without any problem in OpenSUSE 10.3, with kernel However, it suddenly did not work after an upgrade to OpenSUSE 11, with kernel I became nervous, tried to find out the solution, and fount out: downgrading kernel to

This one is about Beagle-ReiserFS incompatibility. The former is Mono and the latter is better off forgotten.

I installed OpenSuse 11.0 today. Beware that if you install using reiserfs andl KDE your computer will freeze periodically in KDE. It took me 6 hours of debugging to figure out that beagle was causing the problems.

We apologise for being hard on OpenSUSE, but it's clear that Novell continues to use OpenSUSE as a 'free sample' to lure users in to its Microsoft-taxed distribution. It's also a case of free labour.

As a side note, I received my new PC just a few hours ago. Without going into specifics, the plan is to multi-boot it, with a 64-bit distribution that's already installed and probably Mandriva 2008, which I've just downloaded. All the setups (e.g. need to buy another monitor tomorrow morning) are likely to affect activity on this site for a few more days. Summertime is a good time for readjustment.

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